The concept of Christmas is pretty universal except for a few cultural differences here and there. Unless you live in Russia, that is. For starters, Russia follows the Julian calendar, which means that they celebrate from December 31 to January 11. If that doesn’t sound odd enough, Christmas is celebrated on December 7.
But that’s only in the last few decades. When the Soviets assumed power however, they abolished religion, turning Russia atheist. And while some embraced the shift to atheism, life for Russia’s devout Catholics became somewhat complicated. Celebrating the birth of Christ in the traditional sense became impossible; even Christmas trees were banned, as they were considered bourgeois and religious.
In a bid to eradicate the Western concept of Christmas, the communists established what became known as the Winter Festival, and during his rule, Joseph Stalin declared New Year’s Day a national family holiday instead of Christmas. Santa Claus was cast out and replaced by the Slavic folk character Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost) who brought gifts on New Year’s Eve (instead of Christmas Eve) accompanied by his granddaughter Snegurochka, the Snow Maiden.
That’s where the festive bit stops, as does its eerie similarities to Christmas. At the time, the Soviet Union was tied with the USA in the Space Race, and the government attempted to fuse Russia’s march into the modern age with tradition, resulting in the incredible holiday cards you see below. While there is fleeting holiday symbolism in them, they are undoubtedly paens to Russia’s space program and a subliminal glorification of communism. For example, the symbolic Red Star that sits atop the ‘traditional’ tree and the odd tree decorations that depict Russia’s industrial achievements.
Scroll down to see the Soviet-era postcards and muse at how different the world would be if Communism had been a successful model.
You can find more Russian Christmas cards here.
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